The next morning we met in the canteen, we had breakfast together, then we discussed how to proceed. We decided to search the bunker. We found scribbled notes in the warroom, then extensive storage rooms. Amelie suggested cooking a slightly more opulent lunch for a change. The fish stabbed her in the nose. We took everything we had found in clues. While Amelie was working around in the kitchen, we were sifted through all the material. It emerged that the people had moved from the Salthamm Bunker to the Vesslan Bunker and were then transported to the Salthamm Naval Base. From there you should be disembarked. When the evacuation was in full swing, the bunker was attacked by many robots. They were even able to open the bunker doors to enter the bunker. That’s why we found the code cards in the robots we shot down.
I searched again for the control center and sat there at one of the computer terminals. I searched the menus and finally found the menu that controlled the door locks. I set them to manual code entry. You had to manually type in the code that was on the map to gain access. That protected against nasty surprises.
I also visited the armory to take stock. I found two boxes full of hand grenades. Also some dummy hand grenades for the exercise I found. With them, Amelie and Thort were able to learn how to use the hand grenades. A bazooka was also on one of the shelves. I remembered getting three of the high-explosive bullets out of a Hunterwreck. I found another box with about 20 bullets. This gave me the opportunity to train with the two of them how to deal with the bazooka. It was a very powerful weapon that we should definitely take with us.
I also found a lot of gas cartridges and mines. The roughly biscuit-sized parts were a terrible weapon. When a robot stepped on one of the parts, it created a large explosion that could tear a Hunter apart. Late at noon, Amelie called to eat. She had prepared baked fish and potatoes that we had found in one of the storage rooms. The food tasted excellent, it was something other than the canned food.
After lunch I asked them in the training room, which was also available in the Vesslan Bunker. I introduced them to the newly found weapons and their effect. Especially the mines and the hand grenades. I looked at Amelie in particular, because she always had her problems with the weapons. I explained the AK 5 to both of them again, because Amelie was supposed to handle this weapon. Strangely, she quickly found her way around the gun. I still had to help her dismantling and reassemble, but she learned quickly.
Today I explained to them how to deal with the Bazooka. Especially the charging process, which was much faster than alone. I explained to Amelie how to insert the bullet into the firing tube and how the empty shell was removed. "When you put the bullet in and the gun is ready to fire, you give the shooter a pat on the helmet. When I let Amelie carry out the loading, I served as a shooter. She hit the helmet extra hard and when I looked at her, she grinned at me. Also Amelie should act as a shooter, it looked funny when Thort hit her with his big paw on the helmet.
"You are not to knock each other out," I drove in between, "but only a light slap."
In the afternoon we moved out of the bunker with the weapon. I let Amelie shoot first. We were looking for a Hunter who was staggering through the forest. We hid in the high grass. I loaded the Bazooka and gave Amelie a slight pat on the helmet.
"Target, aim and shoot," I told her.
She aimed and hit the Hunter. A loud detonation ensued. I reloaded the bazooka and gave Amelie another pat. She once again targeted the Hunter, who stood like a tin soldier. With a PFUMP, the bullet left the pipe and hit the Hunter, which exploded in a large embers.
Amelie beamed "Haha," she laughed, "I puffed him out."
Then we waited a while for more opponents to show up. Now it was Thort’s turn. He did a Hunter, too. I also showed them how to be loaded the Bazooka alone, but this took much longer. After a short firefight with some runners, we retreated.
This morning, gun science was on the agenda. I had the two of them disassembled and assembled. They had to clean the weapons and oil them. I also had them disassemble the bazooka and reassemble them so that they could get to know their structure. Amelie found this weapon cool because she had a heavy calibre and had almost no recoil. In the afternoon we practiced grenade throwing in the hangar of the bunker. I explained to them the course of movement with the dummies and had them repeat this many times. Even when they twisted their eyes, I let them practice throwing again.
I showed them in the morning how to assemble the grenades. And served. Amelie was terrified as she bolted the grenade. I had already explained to them how dangerous things could be, especially if they didn’t handle it properly.
"When you take the grenade in your hand, press the handle and then pull out the locking pin with the ring. As long as the handle is pressed, nothing happens. Only when you let go will the handle fly off and the grenade will explode in three seconds. Then you should have thrown them far enough away."
I showed the two of them how to pull the pin, explained long and wide with the sharp grenade in my hand and then threw it. I had set up a makeshift target with an empty oil barrel. They were to throw the grenade at them so that they were thrown far enough away. I only had some steel barricades as cover. When I threw the grenade and it exploded, the shards flew hissing around. I picked up some of them to show them and point out the great danger of a missthrow. Amelie was anxious. I could see it. I had Thort thrown first so she could watch again.
Then it was Amelie’s turn. She screwed the detonator into the grenade with trembling hands. Thort and I went into cover, then I gave Amelie the order to throw. She pulled the ring and threw the grenade. I could already see from the beginning that the litter went wrong. She had throw far too steeply, presumably out of fear. Thort had also seen this and ran deeper into the hangar I immediately ran off and when the grenade fell far too close to the ground, I plunged on Amelie, while we fell to the ground, grabbed I with my hand her backhead so that she would not hit on the concrete floor.
I embraced her with my right arm, then the grenade exploded, at the moment we hit the ground. The pressure wave and a splinter rain swept over us. I felt stinging pain in my back. Something heavy fell on my legs. Amelie gave a sound like UFF!! of herself when she hit the ground, I lay on her. I stayed lying on her for a moment. My back felt like I had laid down on a nail board. The pain was indescribable.
I slowly straightened up. Amelie was also still dazed and ejected a painful auuuuaaaaa, oooooohhhh.
I was afraid that I had broken a few ribs when I fell on her.
She pressed her hands against my chest and looked at me with big, frightened eyes. I rose to my knees to take my body weight off her and crawled down from her. I could not get up on my legs, my pain was too great.
I asked Amelie "all right with you. Does breathing hurt you?"
"No," she said. "My back hurts from falling, but otherwise everything seems to be ok."
She straightened up, Thort appeared. I support myself with my forehead on the ground. Amelie slapped her hands in front of her mouth
"Ooooohhhhhh Helldiver, your back, Oooohhhhh."
Thort said with a worried voice. "Hell, that looks really shit, I think you urgently need to go to the hospital ward."
I got up slowly and in pain. Amelie and Thort helped me to my feet. I looked around, what had fallen on my feet turned out to be one of the metal barricades, she had stopped most of the splinter rain and looked like a Swiss cheese. I tried to walk with my pain distorted face. It was a miracle that nothing more had happened. We could have both died, it was only a split second. A second later, it would have been too late.
Amelie and Thort supported me as we went to the hospital ward. Amelie doctored me. Thort assisted her. She cried as she took off my tattered uniform jacket. She almost screamed when she saw my back. He was covered with scrapes and splinters.
I said to her , "you have to pull out the shards, even the smallest sliver has to get out. Take a magnifying glass afterwards and search carefully, even the smallest sliver can ignite and we have limited treatment options."
She started to work crying. Thort helped her and held a bowl into which she could throw the shards. She dabbed the wounds clean with iodine and looked closely with the magnifying glass. After some time she had removed all the shards. She could do the rest on her own. She once again she dabbed the wounds all with iodine and smear healing ointment on it. She was still sniffled when she put the bandage on me.
“I’m sorry,” she cried as she finished and looked in my face. ‘I didn’t want that, I’m sorry.’
'There’s nothing to cry for, it was an accident, you just didn’t throw it right. If you had thrown straight, nothing would have happened. You can’t throw grenades and then goggle into the splinter rain, that can be dangerous."
“I did everything wrong again, I messed it up and you’re hurt by it,” she sobbed. “I’m just scared of these horrible weapons.”
"Calm down, there’s nothing to cry for, stop it. It just happened.’
I took her hand and stroked it.
“Why do you always cry immediately? Nothing has happened to you and I am not tearing your head off even now. Sure, if I hadn’t reacted so quickly, we would both have been dead. But this can just happen, we’ve both been lucky.”
She sniffled and smiled at me thinly. "I just built close to the Seine," she said.
"What do you mean by that," I asked her.
“That is, when a girl has built close to the water, she cries quickly for something. I used to get a lot of scolding and beatings from my mother and then I got into a corner and cried and after that I was better and you know, if I’ve cried before, the thundery weather or the beating slammed it was not so bad.”
"And did it work?" I asked her
"No, not always," she replied.
“Well, there’s no thunderstorm and beating, so calm down,” I told her.
I got up from the chair and distorted my face. My back was aching and tense, but it wasn’t as bad as all those splinters in my back. Amelie was very worried, she pressed a pillow into my back when we were sitting on the couch and brought me everything whenever I needed anything.
I could only spend that night lying on my stomach. My back hurt a lot. Amelie changed the bandage after breakfast, examined the wounds and applied healing ointment again. We practiced throwing hand grenades, especially Amelie had to practice that. I had her assemble a sharp grenade and take it apart again. I wanted to take away her fear of that weapon. I practiced throwing it with her, over and over again.
Today I let them throw a sharp grenade again. This time she did it right. I made it clear to her that she did not have to be afraid of the grenade if she handled it with the necessary care and did everything exactly as I had told her. She mastered the exercise with bravura and was visibly relieved. I let her throw a second grenade. She was beaming all over her face when I praised her afterwards.
I planned to go on a reconnaissance mission to the naval base with them. I looked at the map together with the two and determined a route. Because we had to move a lot over open terrain, I told them to be especially careful, because we could not get involved in a big fire fight. If we were confronted by several hunters, it would be a fight to the death. I also taught them that if we retreated we had to go straight to the bunker.
We loaded our weapons and went off. At first it was no problem, we almost made it to the gate of the naval base. We climbed up an adjacent wooded hill to be able to look into the naval base from an elevated point. Some hunters and many runners were walking around in the complex. In the middle was a transmitter mast. Next to it was a barrack where the radio equipment was located. The installation offered plenty of cover, because barrack after barrack was lined up. We could recognize the mouth of the bunker entrance by its wall. I marked important points on my map to be able to plan the next mission in detail. Then we retreated.
We almost made it to the bunker entrance. Not far from the entrance we walked into a bunch of Runner. We fired at them and were able to destroy a few, then one of these Seekers flew over the area and honks what the stuff held before I could shoot him down. Then two hunters came running at us. I fired at them with Thort. We had to change positions often because the Hunters were shooting at us. The runners tried to surround us. I stopped them by taking turns shooting at them. Amelie also fired and destroyed a Runner. Thort retreated toward the bunker. I followed him with Amelie.
Suddenly a large bush rushed in front of us and a Hunter stepped out, I had just emptied my G3. Amelie fired and screamed. As the Hunter came at us. I had just finished loading when her gun was empty. Instead of reloading, she screamed, threw the gun away and ran away. I fired at the Hunter to draw it away from Amelie. At the same time, I looked around hastily to see where Amelie was running. She just panicked and ran straight ahead instead of running to the bunker. Suddenly I was alone with the problem and had to protect Amelie as well. I fired more bursts of fire at the Hunter. I hit his arm MG and disarmed him.
"Damn it, Amelie, run for the shelter, quick!"
“I’m scared, I’m scared,” she cried crying.
"Run damn it," I shouted and pulled her up.
Then I gave her a jab while I kept firing at Hunter and kept him away. Some Runners tried to circle us and cut off the way to the bunker. My G3 was empty again. I quickly reloaded it and kept firing. I gradually pushed Amelie toward the bunker as she ducked behind me. I fired at the runners trying to circle us and finally made it to the bunker.
"Open the door on Amelie fast!" I shouted and kept firing.
It was four Runners and the Hunter that invaded us. I wouldn’t be able to keep them away for long, especially the Hunter, who would start a jump attack.
"At least shoot your gun!" I snapped at her.
Amelie stood staring at the wall in terror. I stood in front of her, took her by the arm and pushed her into the open bunker gate. I kept firing at the Hunter and exploded it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Thort in the hangar. He also fired at some runners who were entering the hangar. The runners fired at us and I fired back fiercely, bullets buzzing, ricochets howling, concrete chunks swirling around, hitting me in the face and ticking against my helmet. Then a shot blasted and I received a violent blow to my arm.
I fired back at the runners, then we were in the bunker. We had barely made it once more. Amelie looked at me with frightened eyes. As I walked towards the recreation room, she took a step back in front of me. I was more than pissed off. I wanted to twist her neck around. Thort came after me from the hangar. When I arrived in the lounge I took the helmet off my head and threw it with full force against the wall so that it flew around the room and crashed to the floor. Amelie shrugged and pulled her head between her shoulders.
I stood up in front of her and yelled at her."
"Damn it, Amelie, how many times have I told you in retreat to go straight to the bunker race and not just damn anywhere. "And then you throw your gun away when you’re too stupid to reload it. What’d I tell you? We run to the bunker, and we don’t have to fucking say it. We barely made the bunker again, a few more runners and we’d be lying out there full of holes just because you screwed up again. I was pacing back and forth like a tiger in front of her, shaking with rage. She had a red face, which was twisted into a sad grimace, she cried again.
“I’m sorry,” she said pressed and tried to hold back her tears.
Thort looked on the ground and said nothing.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” I snorted back
“I can’t listen to your stupid I’m sorry, the same shit every time.”
My arm wound hurt and burned, but I didn’t pay attention to it, I was just too upset.
“And stop your fucking blubbering, it’s not gonna make it better. Every time you fuck up, we’re in mortal danger just because you don’t pay attention and throw your fucking gun away.”
I saw her with a teary-eyed face trying to say something to me and not get it out, then she put her hands in front of her face and ran away.
"God damn it," I yelled and kicked the helmet across the room, so that Thort raised his arms protectively.
"It went well again," Thort said.
"The hell it is," I hissed angrily back.
“We’re lucky to be alive,” I said a bit calmer.
I knew Thort couldn’t nothing for this.
“I’m going out for a smoke,” I said, signalling that I wanted to be alone.
I picked up my helmet, went to the hangar and passed the toilets, the ladies’ room was open, normally Amelie would retire to the toilet to cry. I guess not this time. I had folded her up pretty good, too. Somehow, I suddenly felt sorry for her. I went to the hangar. I had my helmet on and was carefully approaching the entrance.
I ducked behind the barricades and peeked. There were no runners to be seen at the moment. I ran to the next bush, then I ducked again. I couldn’t see any enemies, obviously they had had enough of us. I slowly worked my way to where I had finished off Hunter. The wreck lay in the meadow. I took the Hunter’s ammunition. Then I searched for Amelie’s rifle and found it a little later.
After that I withdrew carefully. Once in the hangar, I ducked behind a barricade and lit a cigarette. I saw her face again, the way she had looked at me. So afraid, so vulnerable. I was sorry I had jumped her like that. I’d have to apologize to her. I guess it was a little too strong what I had done to her. I felt sorry for her. Thort was calling my name.
"Hell you are here?"
"What is?” I called back and went to meet Thort.
“Amelie is gone, I haven’t seen her, and she’s not in the bathroom.”
"Have you looked in the bedroom and in the living room
"No, not yet."
“Let’s check there and in the kitchen, maybe she’s in some kind of storage room,” I said to Thort.
He turned around and went off. She couldn’t be outside, so I figured she wouldn’t be so unreasonable. Besides, I had just come from outside and hadn’t seen her. I went deeper into the hangar. In the rear part was an office barrack and a small warehouse. When I turned the corner I heard a slight sniffle. Amelie was sitting on a wooden box in a dark corner. When she saw me, she stood up and gave me a nasty look.
“Here’s your gun,” I told her and held it out to her.
She came towards me and tore it out of my hand, then pushed me aside and wanted to leave while she shouldered the rifle.
“Amelie, I’d like to talk to you,” I shouted after her. She stopped and turned to me
"What!" she hissed at me.
“What else do you want to talk to me about? Haven’t you trampled on me enough already?”
“Amelie, I wanted to apologize to you, it was a little too much what I threw at you, I’m sorry,” I said
“You’re sorry!” she yelled at me and took one step towards me
“You’re sorry,” you just accused me of saying that, and now you come with your I’m sorry. Every time a mission goes wrong, it’s me and I’m the one you’re stomping on."
She kept coming towards me, screaming in a high-pitched voice
"Have you given any thought to how I’m feeling “No, something goes wrong and you walk all over me. Have you ever stopped to ask yourself if I’m not afraid?”
she screamed at me in a high-pitched voice.
"Don’t you see, you ice block, that I’m afraid when I have to pick up one of those horrible weapons? I get scared every time I go out there with you guys. And then that huge robot just now, those deadly machines. I’M SCARED!! LISTEN TO ME I’M SCARED!! “I’M SCARED!”
she screamed as loud as she could in a shrill voice. I let this ranting tirade come down on me.
“I want to…” I couldn’t get any further, then she screamed again.
“YOU CAN’T IMAGINE HOW SCARED I AM!!!”
“I’M SCARED! I’m scared, so scared!”
and then she was shaken by a crying fit and cried heartbreakingly. She had put her hands in front of her face and opened her mouth wide, she sounded as if she was in pain.
There stood before me this dainty bundle of howling misery. I had simply put too much on this tender person and had not noticed it and on the contrary I had continued to beat her. I felt sorry for her as she stood there in front of me, leaning forward, her hands in front of her face and sobbing heartbreakingly. I wanted to comfort her and took her in my arms. She put up with it. Then I stroked her back and her hair and weighed her slightly.
"I’m sorry, Amelie. I beg your forgiveness. It wasn "t right what I did.
She sobbed in my arms for a while, then she sniffed a little more and put her face against my chest. Then she looked at me with teary eyes
"can you hold me just a little longer, that feels so good?"
"Of course, as long as you like," I said, putting my cheek to her head. Her hair tickled me a little and it felt good for me to hold her in my arms, too. I was ashamed because I had hurt her so. I had only dealt with boys before and the contact was a bit rougher. I had never dealt with a sensitive woman like Amelie. I would have to take myself back in the future. She grabbed my arm and grabbed exactly where the graze shot was. I gritted my teeth. She lifted her head from my chest and looked at me.
"Do you feel better now?" I asked her
“Yes, I’m fine. I accept your apology.”
“Amelie, I’m scared too, when I go out there. I may not show it like that, but I may feel the same way you do.”
She tried to wipe her nose and took her hand off my arm.
“IHHHH what’s that?” she suddenly said and pulled a face.
Her hand was full of blood
"That looks like blood," I told her. "Are you hurt?" I asked her.
“No, I’m not hurt but, OOOhhhh you’re hurt.”
She grabbed my jacket, which was slowly turning red.
"Everything is wet here, you are bleeding, are you hurt?"
"A little," I said.
"We have to go to the infirmary right away, I have to see this, come on!" she said and pulled me along by the hand.
Thort looked incredulous when he saw us. In the infirmary she pushed me onto a chair and then carefully pulled off my jacket.
"Ooohhhh mon dieu," she said when she saw the wound.
"You must take off that shirt too," she said and helped me.
"That was probably my fault because you had to pick me up again," she said in a trembling voice, tears approaching again.
“Amelie, it could have happened that way, it’s not your fault,” I said.
"Then why do you let me scold you even though you are in pain and bleeding?" she asked me.
“Because it was more important to talk to you,” I replied. She stroked my face and I got goose bumps. "You growl, snap and bite like a shaggy wolf and then you’re such a nice person again. I would like to see this dear person much more often. I have no one else. I have no one to talk to about my fears, no one to comfort me, can’t you be that?’ she asked me and looked at me pleadingly.
“You’re a poor soul, but I’ll try to be okay.”
She smiled at me and gave me a kiss on the cheek so that a shiver ran down my back. Then she set about tending my wound.
When she was done, I asked her again
“Are you all right now, Amelie? It’s important that we talk to each other, otherwise we’ll have serious problems out there if we don’t understand each other.”
“Everything is ok, it’s alright now, I told you what I thought once.”
“That was good like that, you have it hard with us two boys, you know it is something different when a few boys are among each other, there is teasing, there is jostling, you tell each other what you think and if there is no other way, you get something in your face. Well, I’ve never had anything to do with a girl before and I’ve got to learn how to do it.”
Amelie smiled at me and said
“It’s enough for me to understand that I’m so afraid of the hunters. And if you stop yelling at me so badly, I’m afraid of you.”
“You don’t have to be afraid of me, I was just really angry, we just cheated death. I don’t do everything right either. But please, if you’re scared, then talk to me about it, you know when I’m not ready to talk.” She nodded and said.
“Yeah, you always show that when you don’t want to talk.”
We left the infirmary, Amelie turned into the kitchen
“I’ll fix us something to eat.”
I went on into the bedroom, I put down my weapons. Then I washed.
In the evening we sat together for a while. Amelie had found a guitar which had been lying in one of the crew rooms. She tuned it and strummed it around a bit. Before long, she had the guitar tuned.
Then all of a sudden, she was playing a song. She plucked the sides and started singing, she sang “Dust in the Wind” this beautiful song from Kansas. The way she sang that song, it sounded beautiful. Amelie’s pleasant voice floated through the room along with the soft guitar sounds. Her French timbre gave me goose bumps.
Thort and I listened intently. She made us forget the deadly danger we were in.
Weren’t we all just dust in the wind, blown away by the wind of life? Did we have any real chance at all to survive it? or were we fighting a pointless battle?
When she stopped, she put the guitar aside and sat down on the couch with her knees drawn up. She leaned her head on her knees and stayed introspective. Usually she was very talkative, but now she was calm. She seemed thoughtful.
After breakfast I explained the battle once more, but did not go into the mistakes that were made. I saw that Amelie’s tension disappeared from her face. I also explained the naval base again and worked out a plan together with them. Afterwards I said.
“Well, enough for today, I think we all deserve a breather. So lazing around, showering, exercising, reading, hanging out. And Amelie, if you need help in the kitchen, just say so, you don’t have to do everything by yourself all the time!”
She smiled “Oh no, it’s not work, don’t bother.”
I grabbed my G3 and was about to leave the bunker. When I came out of the bedroom, Amelie asked me where I was going, I said
"get a little fresh air."
"May I come with you, or am I a nuisance?"
"No, you can come along," I told her.
She suddenly beamed and ran quickly into the sleeping room, a little later she came back with her AK 5 and the helmet on her head. At the bunker door I peered left and right. Then we went into the forest. Once again I scanned the area with binoculars and could not see any robots. I reached a place from where I could see the coast and had a very nice view over Södra Saltholmen. At a group of erratic blocks we sat down on the ground, so nothing could attack us. I offered Amelie a cigarette which she took. We smoked in silence and I enjoyed the late summer sun.
"May I lean on you?" she asked me. I nodded and she leaned her head on my shoulder. She had her eyes closed and smiled.
"May I put my arm around you, it would be more comfortable?" I asked her.
She opened her eyes directly, stood up and put her head against my chest.
"Merci (French: Thank you)," she breathed.
As I held her, I peered with my binoculars, smoked and hung my thoughts. Amelie seemed to enjoy the closeness. She had taken off her helmet and I could see that she was lying against my chest with her eyes closed.
I held a candy bar under her nose and waved it gently. She picked it up and nibbled at it.
"Will this nightmare ever end?" she suddenly asked.
“If I could give you an answer to that, it’ll probably be a long time before this is over. I don’t know what’s going on myself,” I sighed.
"What are you thinking about? she asked.
“I’m thinking about what to do next and how to get to the naval base in one piece.”
"Am I disturbing you now, am I a burden to you? She asked.
“If I had, I wouldn’t have taken you with me.”
"Can I tell you something?" she asked again.
"What? I asked back.
"I’d like to be with you more often. I don "t have anybody else to talk to. I can “t do that with Thort. And this, you giving me a hug, just like that, feels so good, for me anyway. This is something I rarely get at home, and the boys I met that way didn’t give it to me either, they always just wanted to feel me up and you don’t do that at all. I can talk to you, you listen to me, so I’d like to be near you more often if you don’t mind.”
“You don’t have a lot of choice right now, but if it helps you, it’s okay with me,” I said to her.
“I often dare not, because you’re always so grim.”
"Am I?" I asked her and she just nodded.
“There’s so many things on my mind, just talk to me. I’ll tell you when I want to be left alone.”
"Have you ever actually been with a girl like we are now?" she asked, I was beginning to wonder what she was getting at and why she was asking me all this, what was going on inside her?
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